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Bird Sightings : Hebrides : December 2007

 

 

 

 

This table is Hebrides Bird Sightings December 2007

Monday 31st December, 2007 Glaucous Gull Drimsdale - South Uist
+ Loch Barvas - Isle of Lewis
   
Monday 31st December, 2007 Iceland Gull Loch Barvas - Isle of Lewis    
Monday 31st December, 2007

Lesser Scaup

Scaup

Coot Loch - Benbecula

Far end of loch (opposite Borgh on B892)

NF770510

   
Monday 31st December, 2007 Grey Phalarope Stinky Bay - Benbecula    
Sunday 30th December, 2007

Lesser Scaup

Scaup

Coot Loch - Benbecula

Far end of loch (opposite Borgh on B892)

NF770510

   
Sunday 30th December, 2007 Goldeneye Breasclete - Bernera "A male and female and two probable juveniles at dusk " Suzanne
Sunday 30th December, 2007 Glaucous Gull

Brue - Isle of Lewis

   
Sunday 30th December, 2007 Golden Plover Bosta - Isle of Lewis

"Adult bird struck through the heart by a raptor, never seen one in the Bosta area before"

A raptor is a bird of prey. The word raptor comes from the Latin that means "to seize and carry away", and is given to a bird that kills with its feet.
Eagles, Ospreys, Falcons, Hawks and Owls are all raptors.

Suzanne
Sunday 30th December, 2007 Grey Phalarope Stinky Bay - Benbecula    

A quick peek at what the "neighbours" in Iceland are seeing (Sunrise 11.19am, sunset 3.20pm).
.Icelandic Birding Pages

Sun, 30 December 2007:
No bird reports.

Gusts of 201mph and average wind speed of 98mph
Daytime high temperature 1° C (Low -6° C)

Recent sightings:
"Green-winged teal, American black duck, king eider, common goldeneyes, smew, grey heron, Northern lapwing, Eurasian Curlews, bar-tailed godwit, Eurasian woodcock, Ivory gull, jack snipes, dunnock, chaffinch, lapland bunting, white-throated sparrow, American coot, cattle egret (Thur 20th December) , common crossbill"

The Icelandic Birding Diary is entertaining and gives an insight into what Icelandic birding is like:
"...where the locals would drop a Gyr Falcon like a hot potato for a Curlew ..."

 

Cattle Egrets (We had our first in the Western Isles back in July)

BTO show just 3 UK annual records for the cattle egret.
BBRC show 23 records for 2006 (the highest on record).

Today in Cornwall there was a flock of 15 birds at one site alone, there have been reports this week of up to 50 birds wintering in the UK (some have reached as far North as Dumfries). In years when a species comes in large numbers like this it is called an influx or irruption. Often these are caused by the numbers of birds being too great for their usual feeding grounds. It has been put forward that in this case the egrets are coming to the UK because it is currently milder in the UK than in Europe!
The Cattle Egret is native to Asia, Africa and Europe. Most Cattle Egrets are permanent residents, there is some post-breeding dispersal which has the effect of extending their range, so there is plenty of speculation as to if some may stay in 2008 and breed in britain.

There is also a larger than usual number of great white egrets wintering in the UK this year.

There was an influx of little egrets in 1989, since then they have been resident in the UK and the first pair bred in 1996. There are now about 50 breeding pairs in the UK.

Sunday 30th December, 2007

Lesser Scaup

Scaup

Coot Loch - Benbecula

Far end of loch (opposite Borgh on B892)

NF770510

   
Sunday 30th December, 2007 Goldeneye Breasclete - Bernera "A male and female and two probable juveniles at dusk " Suzanne
Sunday 30th December, 2007 Glaucous Gull

Brue - Isle of Lewis

   
Sunday 30th December, 2007 Golden Plover Bosta - Isle of Lewis "Adult bird struck through the heart by a raptor, never seen one in the Bosta area before" Suzanne
Sunday 30th December, 2007 Grey Phalarope Stinky Bay - Benbecula    
Saturday 29th December, 2007 Grey Phalarope Stinky Bay - Benbecula

"Here are a few pics of a Grey Phalarope from Stink Bay this afternoon.  Also Scaup and Lesser Scaup on Coot Loch."

Grey Phalarope Grey Phalarope Grey Phalarope

 

Terry Fountain
Saturday 29th December, 2007

Lesser Scaup

Scaup

Coot Loch - Benbecula

Far end of loch (opposite Borgh on B892)

NF770510

  Terry F
Saturday 29th December, 2007 Glaucous Gull

Loch Barvas - Isle of Lewis

   
Friday 28th December, 2007 Iceland Gull Gress - Isle of lewis    
Thursday 27th December, 2007 Great White Egret

Loch Fada - Benbecula

 

   
Thursday 26th December, 2007 Glaucous Gull

Ardivachar - South Uist

NF7446

   
Thursday 27th December, 2007

Lesser Scaup

Scaup

Coot Loch - Benbecula

Far end of loch (opposite Borgh on B892)

NF770510

   
Tuesday 25th December, 2007 Great White Egret Loch an Eilean - South Uist    
Tuesday 25th December, 2007 Glaucous Gull

Loch Barvas - Isle of Lewis

NB3450

   
Mon 24th December, 2007 Iceland Gull

Peninerine - South Uist

NF7435

Grid Ref: NB5264

   
Mon 24th December, 2007

Lesser Scaup

Scaup

Coot Loch - Benbecula

Far end of loch (opposite Borgh on B892)

NF770510

   
Saturday 22nd December, 2007 Goosander

Loch Barvas - Isle of Lewis

NB3450

2 birds Mark M
Saturday 22nd December, 2007

Lesser Scaup

Scaup

Coot Loch - Benbecula

Far end of loch (opposite Borgh on B892)

NF770510

   
Saturday 22nd December, 2007 Ring-necked Duck

Loch Eaval - North Uist

A865 Opposite Hogha Gearraidh turnoff, near RSPB Balranald
NF719720

   

Katrina at Mykines (Faroe Islands our other "neighbours") wrote:

"The years 2005, 2006 and 2007 have been catastrophic with hardly any full fledged young puffin".

Guillemot numbers which had also plummeted there appear to be improving a little.
Arctic tern numbers are way down.

Read more about the bird populations of the Faroe Islands

Friday 21st December, 2007 Golden Eagle

Loch Carnan - South Uist

 

"Here is an unusual pic of a Golden Eagle taken late afternoon at LochCarnan. Probably a once in a life time opportunity. Going to try for the Lesser Scaup (could be the same one from last winter) on Coot Loch in the morning, using the shooting hide for cover."

Bird Sightings : Golden Eagle Terry's photograph of the golden eagle

Terry Fountain
Friday 21st December, 2007 Lesser Scaup Coot Loch - Benbecula    
Friday 21st December, 2007 Snow Buntings Port Nis - Isle of lewis    
Friday 21st December, 2007 Iceland Gull

Loch Stiapabhat - Europie- Isle of lewis + Butt of Lewis

Grid Ref: NB5264

   
Friday 21st December, 2007 Lesser Scaup Coot Loch - Benbecula    
Friday 21st December, 2007 Snow Buntings Port Nis - Isle of lewis    
Friday 21st December, 2007 Iceland Gull Loch Stiapabhat - Isle of lewis + Butt of Lewis    
 
Thursday 21st December, 2007 Brambling Achmore - Isle of Lewis   Jenny
Thursday 21st December, 2007 Velvet Scoter Broadbay - Isle of Lewis    
Thursday 21st December, 2007 Blue Tit Achmore - Isle of Lewis Jenny has a blue tit in her Achmore garden for the first time in several years, it has been about for a couple of months - a rare treat here outside of Stornoway . Jenny
Thursday 21st December, 2007 Iceland Gull Stornoway Harbour- Isle of Lewis    
Wednesday 19th December, 2007 Surf Scoter Sound of Taransay    
Wednesday 19th December, 2007 Kestrel Head of Loch Roag - Isle of lewis

"Kestrel following the shoreline.. "

Suzanne
Wednesday 19th December, 2007 Goldeneye Loch Tiumpan - Isle of Lewis
+ Loch nr Great Bernera Shop

"Both birds were drakes, and at both sites tufted duck, wigeon and teal were also present"

Suzanne
Tuesday 18th December, 2007 Jack Snipe Great Bernera "It stood in the middle of the road , looked confused, I had to get out of the car to get it to move, a tiny bird ..." Sunny
Tuesday 18th December, 2007 Pomarine Skua Tiumpanhead - Isle of Lewis    
Tuesday 18th December, 2007 Iceland Gull Loch Tiumpan - Isle of Lewis    
Tuesday 18th December, 2007 Velvet Scoter Broadbay - Isle of Lewis    
Tuesday 18th December, 2007

 

Kentish Plover

Lochdar - South Uist - Outer Hebrides

(just before Hebridean Jewellers park on left)

  • Kentish Plover
  • AKA: Snowy Plover
  • Charadrius alexandrinus
  • 34 annual UK records BTO
  • UK Former Breeder, Scarce Visitor
  • Breeds: "Locally" in Europe, Asia, (NOT KENT or rest of UK)
  • Winters: South Europe - Central Africa, South-East Asia
  • Habitat: Beaches, mudflats, rivers, lochs
  • Small wader, like ringed plover, but smaller, paler, longer-legged & thinner-billed. Breast band never complete, & usually as dark lateral patches on sides of breast. Greyish-brown above, white below. Summer adults' breast markings black, otherwise brown. Legs black. Flight: Flight feathers blackish & strong white wingbar
  • Diet: Inland: Insects. Coastal: Crustaceans, worms, molluscs (run & pause)

Unusual in that it buries it's eggs. A rather sensible act as it was almost hounded to extinction by eggers and taxidermists until it gained protected status.

The bird once had a UK breeding stronghold in Kent and Sussex. Then in the 19th Century the species was recognised as separate to the ringed plover and specimens became instantly sought after...(still declining in numbers)

 

In case you don't receive anything from Jenni and John M - they
reported a Rough-legged Buzzard at Achmore, Lewis this morning
(09.30-10.10).  Well described - when last seen the bird was flying
east.

Brian R
Sunday 16th December

     
  • Rough-legged Buzzard
  • AKA: Rough-legged Hawk
  • Buteo lagopus
  • UK Passage/Winter Visitor
  • UK 70 annual records BTO
  • Breeds: Nests in trees or on rocky cliffs in valleys (upland or Arctic). Europe (not UK), Asia, North America,
  • Winters: Open upland marshland & moorland. Mostly migrates to south & east Europe including British east coast. USA
  • Habitat: Hunts across open land. Tundra, farmland, open coniferous forest
  • Diet: small mammals, some carrion
  • How differs to common buzzard:
    More Eagle-like, Slightly larger. Wings longer, floppier, typically paler head & below. White tail has a broad dark band at its tip. Arctic bird has adapted by having feet that feet are feathered to the toes. Hovers
  • Max recorded age 18yrs 9mths
 

First it's too grey to see anything then it's too bright!

Spare a thought for our "neighbours" up in Iceland who wrote:
"Here's a free tip for you, if you ever want to come birding in Iceland, think twice about coming in December..."

Recently they have had gusts of 230km/h and very brief daylight...
(American wigeon, grey heron and ring-billed gull, ivory gull...)
More details at the Icelandic birding pages

Friday 14th December, 2007 Ring-necked Duck

Loch Eaval - North Uist

NF719720

Female bird has been at this location for a few weeks

Terry F
Friday 14th December, 2007

 

Kentish Plover

Lochdar - South Uist - Outer Hebrides

(just before Hebridean Jewellers park on left)

  Terry F
Friday 14th December, 2007 Iceland Gull Gramsdale - Benbecula 1st winter bird Terry F
Thursday 13th December, 2007 Iceland Gull Gramsdale - Benbecula    
Tuesday 11th December, 2007 Iceland Gull Gramsdale - Benbecula    
Monday 10th December, 2007 Red-necked Grebe Sound of Barra    
Monday 10th December, 2007 Glaucous Gull Balgarva - South Uist    
Monday 10th December, 2007 Richardson's Canada Goose Oban Truimsgarry - Lochmaddy - North Uist

The Richardson's Canada goose was with the barnacles where the great white egret was back in October

  • Richardson's Canada goose
  • AKA Baffin Island Goose
  • Branta canadensis hutchinsii
  • Breeds: Arctic Canadian Islands & Canadian Coast east to Baffin Island, Western Greenland.
  • Winters in USA, Mexico coast
  • Slightly larger than mallard. Bill short & stubby. Breast pale to dark brownish. Short-legged.
 
Monday 10th December, 2007 Barnacle Geese Oban Truimsgarry - Lochmaddy - North Uist    
Sunday 9th December, 2007 Iceland Gull Shawbost - Isle of Lewis    
Sunday 9th December, 2007

 

Kentish Plover

Lochdar - South Uist - Outer Hebrides

(just before Hebridean Jewellers park on left)

   
Sunday 9th December, 2007 Snow Buntings Muir of Aird - Benbecula    
Sunday 9th December, 2007 Scaup

Coot Loch - Benbecula

NF770510

   
Sunday 9th December, 2007 Common Redpoll

Muir of Aird - Benbecula

   

"Nesting stories... my neighbour comes up to work on his new house a few times a year. His dumper truck had engine problems, so he had brought up spare parts. Lifted the bonnet to find a blackbird nest with 3 blue eggs sitting on the engine block. Dilemma of what to do, he waited a day or two but no bird, the nest was deserted."

Bernera, 8th December, 2007

Sightings in Iceland over the last few days included:

"Drake King Eider, White-throated Sparrow, Ring-billed Gull, Grey Heron, Eurasian Siskin, Ivory Gull, 11 Goldeneyes, Dunnock, Chaffinches, American Herring Gull, American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Bar-tailed Godwit ..."
(White-throated Sparrow breeds in North America & winters in South America. Vagrant to Europe)

More details at the Icelandic birding pages

Anyone else got any nesting stories to share?

"Hi, we had sparrows nesting in our due-to-be demolished porch this summer and had to reschedule our plans (cancelled the builders). We forgot they the sparrows would have a second family and ended up having to cancel the builders a second time. Decided we quite liked the old porch in the end and are not going to pull it down after all! Are the sparrows likely to nest there next year?"

Katie M, Stornoway, 8th December 2007

Yes! and there are records of house sparrows having 4 broods in a single year...a female can lay 25 eggs in a year in some parts of the world

         
Saturday 8th December, 2007 Glaucous Gull

Ardivachar Point - South Uist

NF7446

   

Another article on the seven whooper swans who were tracked by satellite from their breeding grounds in Iceland to their wintering grounds in South-West Scotland for the BBC's Autumnwatch programme. details below

Doon flew " low and directly through the area of the proposed new wind farm on Lewis"
Nearly all of the 26,000 whoopers which winter in Britain & Ireland come down from Iceland

The article is also full of interesting whooper swan facts like a group of swans was picked up on radar at 23,000ft during strong Northerly winds and snow storms. They used a tailwind that reached 180mph to fly above the snowfall.

Telegraph online 8th December, 2007

Friday 7th December, 2007 Snow Buntings 30+

North Bay - South Uist

NF751464

  Terry F
Friday 7th December, 2007 Glaucous Gull 1

North Bay - South Uist

NF751464

  Terry F
Thursday 6th December Iceland Gull Scarista - Isle of Harris    
Thursday 6th December Glaucous Gull 2 Stornoway - Isle of Lewis Immatures
 
Thursday 6th December Kestrel Callanish - Isle of lewis

"Kestrel back again, came in along the length of the sealoch this time.. "

 

 

RSPB and SNH have found that in the last 12 years black-throated divers have increased in numbers in the UK by 34%, and red-throated divers by 16%, with the greatest increase in breeding birds being in the Western Isles.
Both species have however declined in Europe. So in September 2007 the black-throated diver was made a conservation priority by the UK government.

A black-throated diver's legs are a long-way back on it's body, this helps make the bird a great swimmer but barely able to walk on land, so the bird builds it's nest very close to the water's edge. A nest located like this is very vulnerable to flooding, so many eggs get lost, and numbers are further reduced by predators and egg-collectors.
Someone had the bright idea of building the birds anchored rafts to nest on in safe areas in the middle of remote lochs. 58 have been created and numbers have increased ...

BBC web site (article written in September 2007)

There are an estimated 217 breeding pairs of black-throated diver in the UK, about 20 of these pairs are in the Western Isles so our population is of national importance. We also see them around the coast sometimes in winter. (RSPB estimate 700 UK wintering birds)

 

 


is there any news on the kentish plover since dec 3?
yours gratefully
a.orton

(No reports of it sent in but if anyone lets me know, I will pass it on. Birders & birds have their heads down just now...Gales here) 5th December, 2007

 

 

Detailed information about the hedgehogs (or lack of them this year) in the Uists.
Numbers similar but differ a bit to the Scotsman's article on the 30th November

Telegraph online 5th December, 2007

 

 

Councillors have decided to allow the Pairc windfarm to go ahead.

Originally the energy company wanted to erect 125 turbines (each nearly 500ft tall) at Pairc in South Lochs, they later reduced the scheme to 57 bigger, more powerful turbines. The environment and protective services committee of the council have backed only 26 at this point.

The council's view will be given the Scottish Government who make the final decision.

Scotsman online, December 4th

 

Tuesday 3rd
December,2007

 

Kentish Plover

Lochdar - South Uist - Outer Hebrides

(just before Hebridean Jewellers park on left)

   

 

The Uist Wader Project sends out a team annually searching for and trapping hedgehogs.

The rate of catching has dramatically decreased.
In North Uist in 2003 there were 66 hedgehogs found, and North Uist and Benbecula in 2004 there were 264, but this year they found just two in the search and there were nine others caught in the lead-up period.

In 1983 our islands had about 17,000 pairs of breeding waders, later surveys found that their numbers had declined by almost half in the areas of the Uists colonised by hedgehogs, whilst the populations in areas with no hedgehogs had increased.

The Uist Wader Project is a partnership of SNH, RSPB and The Scottish Executive, set up to safeguard the important populations of breeding wading birds in the Uists.

Hedgehogs captured since April 2007 have been relocated.

Scotsman online, 30th November

 

Monday 3rd December, 2007 Goldeneye Loch Eaval (Nr Balranald) - North Uist

2 birds: a drake and a hen

Terry F

Calling males of corncrakes in the Western Isles was up by 22 birds this year.
UK total for calling males reached 1,273 (highest level for almost 30 years)

Concern for their future is growing however, as cattle farming is on the decrease and with it goes hay production and other mixed farming which has helped keep corncrake habitat.

Telegraph online

Monday 3rd December, 2007 Ring-necked Duck Loch Eaval (Nr Balranald) - North Uist

1 bird
A female has been at this location for a few weeks

Terry F
Monday 3rd December, 2007 Whooper Swans Loch Eaval (Nr Balranald) - North Uist

4 birds

Seven whooper swans were tracked by satellite from their breeding grounds in Iceland to their wintering grounds in South-West Scotland for the BBC's Autumnwatch programme.

Previously the starting and end points of their journey were known but not the exact path that they followed.

Some went via Caithness.
Others came down through Lewis.
One is still on the move down in Donnegal Bay area (28 Nov)

On the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust web site you can look at satellite photographs and follow the route each bird took ( zooming on Lewis etc) See if their routes cross the proposed windfarms.

(Bit slow on dialup internet access but still useable)

 

Terry F

Scotland's breeding population of white-tailed eagles is at its highest number since the Sea Eagle Project (a reintroduction scheme) began in 1975.

The population is now 42 breeding pairs (6 more pairs than 2006).
An estimated total of 200 sea eagles in Scotland.
34 young birds fledged this year.

The core population is still found on Skye, Mull and the Western Isles but the eagles have expanded on this range.

The Sea Eagle Project team, is a partnership of the RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland.

Scotsman online (article no longer available)

Sun 2nd December, 2007 Glaucous Gull Borve - Isle of Lewis    
Sun 2nd December, 2007

 

Kentish Plover

Lochdar - South Uist - Outer Hebrides

(just before Hebridean Jewellers park on left)

 

 

Terry F

Sun 2nd December, 2007 Iceland Gull Shader (?) - Isle of Lewis  
Saturday 1st December, 2007

White Tailed Eagle 1

Hen Harrier 1

Short Eared Owl 4 (all together sheltering in the heather)

Loch Skipport - South Uist  
         

 

 

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